There has been a great deal of action and excitement over the past couple of weeks in the Spanish Primera Division, and the news and results have been coming in fast and furious since the season ended just two weeks ago. Let's take a look at everything that has transpired over the course of the past few days to get an early look at what the Primera Division will look like next year.
Barcelona Retains Crown
Barcelona was able to win the Primera Division again this year by beating Valladolid 4-0 in the final game of the season. Barcelona was also able to set a Primera Division record this season by accruing 99 total points over the course of 38 games played. Lionel Messi led all scorers this season on Barcelona with 34 goals in league play and 47 goals in all competitions, which tied the club record set by Ronaldo in the 1996-1997 season. Real Madrid, despite having one of the highest payrolls in Primera Division history, was only able to garner second place. Finishing three points behind Barcelona, Real Madrid finished runner-up for the second straight season despite having one of the greatest collections of players ever assembled on one team.
Next season, the UEFA Champions League will be the homes of Valencia and Sevilla, as both teams qualified through their finishes of third and fourth, respectively, within the Spanish Primera Division. 5th-place Mallorca and 6th-place Getafe have secured spots in next season's UEFA Europa League while Valladolid, Tenerife, and Xenex have all been placed in the second division.
Ricardo Costa has been transferred to Valencia on four-year free deal. Costa had been playing for Lille, but Valencia's inclusion into the UEFA Champions League forced them to have to make this deal. Costa joins Mehmet Topal, a midfielder from Turkey, who also was signed just a few weeks ago to strengthen the Vallencia team going into next season's play.
Barcelona continues to get stronger, as they worked out a deal with rival Vallencia to transfer David Villa to the Barcelona squad. Villa has passed his physical examination and is now a member of the powerful Barcelona championship team. In his last five seasons, Villa has averaged 22 goals scored per season, which ranks him near the top of that category in La Liga.
Atletico Madrid, who were able to clinch the inaugural UEFA Europa League title, has gained a transfer in the likes of Arsenal's Fran Merida. Merida comes to Atletico Madrid on a free transfer for a four-year deal. Merida has not seen a great amount of big-game action since joining the Arsenal squad in 2005.
Sevilla has gotten Mouhamadou Dabo from AS Saint-Etienne on a free transfer. Dabo's agreement with Sevilla extends the length of four seasons. Part of Dabo's contract will include a 25 million euro buyout clause. Dabo, a fullback is able to play on either side of the field, with most of his time from this past season spent on the left side of the field.
Real Madrid parted ways with coach Manuel Pelligrini to bring Jose Mourinho as their new coach for next season's play. Pellegrini departs at the midpoint of the new two-year deal that he signed before the beginning of this past season. Mourinho, who is currently under contract with Inter Milan until 2012, will need to work out a plan with that squad before he can make settle in to his new home with Real Madrid.
A one-year contract extension has been given to Atletico Madrid's coach Quique Sanchez Flores. After winning the inaugural UEFA Europa League title, Flores led Atletico Madrid to a 9th-place finish in the Spanish Primera Division this past season.